Darlington become the latest League Two club to go into administration
The news that Darlington have entered administration and suffered a 10 point deduction must have come as a surprise to many supporters of League Two clubs but perhaps it shouldn't have considering how many clubs have been in trouble in recent years.
The gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' seems to get larger with every new season. It is only a couple of years since we saw Boston United's administrative and money troubles lead the Lincolnshire club to fall from League Two status to the Unibond Premier League position they now find themselves in. Two other former league clubs find themselves even further down the non-league pyramid than Boston. Halifax Town and Scarborough have both lost their Conference places in recent years with Scarborough now homeless and having to play in Bridlington instead of their home town. Both clubs went into liquidation and new clubs have arisen from the ashes of the original clubs. FC Halifax hold one of the play-off places in the Unibond One North while Scarborough Athletic are even lower down the pyramid, playing in the North east Counties League Division One. Happily they are 11 points clear at the top with two games in hand on the team in second place, but they are a long, long way away from a league place.
Another two of Barnet's former non-league rivals have also gone into liquidation in recent seasons. Telford United, once seen as a club likely to step up from the Conference to league football went into liquidation in 2004. They are hoping to return to the top level of non-league football this year and are currently placed 3rd in the Blue Square North having lost out in the play-offs last season.
Farnborough Town are now Farnborough and they lost their Conference South place a couple of years ago but now seem to be heading back to the, now, Blue Square South as they are currently five points clear of the British Gas League Premier Division.
If Farnborough or Telford are to make the Blue Square Premier and to survive, they will be hoping to avoid the kind of problems that many clubs that have been promoted to the top tier of non-league football have suffered. The recent news that Weymouth are almost certain to lose all their first team squad after failing to pay the players' wages has saddened most football fans. Weymouth have been having quite a good season too up until this upset. Last Saturday however, they had to play their youth side at home to Rushden & Diamonds, the first team players having refused to play without being paid. Consequently, Weymouth crashed 0-9 to Rushden.
Salisbury and Lewes have also found it difficult to afford the higher costs incurred in the step up to the Blue Square Premier. Salisbury have had to let go a number of their best players, some of whom have found a new home at league clubs. Lewes look certain to go straight down to the Blue Square South as they are currently 15 points from safety. Barnet fans will be aware that the Sussex club have recently had to cancel the loan deals of Elliott Charles and Keiron St Amie as they couldn't afford their wages.
Barnet fans are of course all too aware of the huge points deductions suffered by Rotherham, Bournemouth and Luton this season. With the Bees struggling for points for most of the season, they have been kept off the bottom of the table for periods of time by the Cherries and the Hatters. Happily, Barnet are now 5th from bottom and are now out of the bottom two of what many fans call the 'real League Two table'.
To return to where this article started, Darlington's demotion from 7th place to 11th place is likely to have major repercussions for their chances of making the play-offs in a similar way to that suffered by Rotherham last season. Rotherham are just one of a number of clubs to have suffered more than one points deduction, a fate shared by Darlington.
Darlington will not be the last club to go into administration and suffer a points deduction. There are rumours circulating about other League Two clubs and this situation will not change until the football authorities do something about redistributing some of the massive wealth that is generated in English football these days. Surely, the likes of Manchester United can afford a cut in the amount of money they receive from the television rights in order to help prevent lower league and non- league clubs going to the wall or losing so many of their hard won points.